Researchers search for new antibiotics in algae to avoid infections in prostheses
March 26, 2015
The University of Oviedo takes part in the NOMORFILM European Project, with 7,6 million euros, which aims to make implants and catheters capable of fighting microbial infections
Researchers of the University of Oviedo will take part in the NOMORFILM research project, an initiative funded by the European Union to find new antibiotics in microalgae capable of inhibiting bacterial activity that causes infections in prostheses. The project, with 7,6 million euros is part of the initiative of the EU Blue Growth, and gathers 8 universities, 2 research centers and 5 companies from 9 countries.
The research group of the Asturian research institution, led by Felipe Lombó, will analyze, along with the Barcelona Center for International Health Research, thousands of new compounds whose antibacterial properties are capable of preventing the colonization of microorganisms in prostheses and catheters which result in infections. The multinational Asturian Company MBA Incorporado SA, devoted to biomedical technology and member of the Cluster of Biomedicine and Health of the Campus of International Excellence, is also a partner member in this project, and will be in charge of commercializing the results.
Statistics show that 800.000 prostheses are placed every year in countries from the EU, and the amount of catheters is even higher. 7,5% of these patients suffer an infection, which requires surgical treatment to replace the implant. The replacement of the infected prosthesis implies an estimate cost that goes from 30.000 to 50.000 euros per patient, depending on the countries, and it means a total annual cost of 7.000 million euros only in the EU.
The bacteria and fungi responsible for infections in the prostheses do not respond to conventional treatments with antibiotics because these pathogenic microorganisms colonize prosthetic devices and catheters, creating thin microbial layers called biofilms, which are resistant to antibiotics and do not have pharmacological treatment.
The process to search for new antibiotics
Barcelona Center for International Health Research and the research group of the Microbiology Area of the University of Oviedo will be in charge of screening thousands of new compounds with antibiotic properties to fight bacteria and fungi isolated from patients who needed to have their prostheses and catheters replaced.
The most active compounds will be analyzed to determine if their molecular structure is new. The most interesting cases will be tested in animal models to rule out toxicity in humans. Likewise, mechanisms with antibiotic properties and microbial anti layer will be analyzed. Those antibiotics that pass all these tests will be added to nanoparticles, which will be used to make prosthesis and catheter prototypes which are infection-resistant.
The continuous supply of new antibiotics will be controlled by several members of the project, using a low energy bioreactor technology, which will allow reducing production costs and minimizing the ecological impacts of the biotechnological process.
The Blue Growth strategy of the EU, developed in the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, with 435 million euros, aims to take full advantage of the rich marine ecosystems that bathe our coastline. In order to disseminate this Blue Growth initiative among young students, the academic partners of this research project will organize annual contests on this matter, in different high schools of the participating countries. The winning students in these contests will join stays to get closer to the world of research in the laboratories that are part of the network of the NOMORFILM project.
Project: New marine biomolecules to avoid infection in prosthetic devices
Funding: 7,6 million euros of the European Commission, Horizon 2020 Program
Duration: 4 years
Research group University of Oviedo: Research group "Biotechnology and Experimental Therapy based on Nutraceuticals (BITTEN) Microbiology Area.
Felipe Lombó Brugos (Full profesor in Microbiology Area), Claudio Jesús Villar Granja (Full profesor in Microbiology Area), Elisa Miguélez (Full profesor in Microbiology Area), Laura Marín (PhD student), Javier Fernández (PhD student), Ignacio Gutiérrez del Río (PhD student), Giusy Martina di Martino (Master student. University of Padua), Aroa Arboleya (Master student. Universidad Complutense de Madrid), Juan Carvajal (Degree in Biotechnology), Coral García (Degree in Biotechnology), Lucía Torres (Degree in Biology), Lara Fernández (Degree in Biology) and María García (Degree in Biology).
NOMORFILM Partner Members
Barcelona Center for International Health Research, University of Oviedo, University of Almería, Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental and Marine Research of Oporto (Portugal), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Florence (Italy), University of Coimbra (Portugal), University Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6 (France), Trinity College of Dublin (Ireland), Karolinska Institute of Stockholm (Sweden), MBA Incorporado SA (Company, Spain), Fotosintetica e Microbiologica Srl (Company, Italy), Ktedogen Srl. (Company, Italy), Pyrogenesis SA (Company, Greece) and Nanomedpharma Ltd (Company, United Kingdom)